Please Prepay in Advance

Is there any other way to prepay?

This weekend I was filling up at my local Irving Oil station when I noticed this sign at the pump: “Please Prepay in Advance.”

I snapped a picture and showed it to my girls, six & eight. (Those aren't their real names.) By asking a couple of questions they realized that this had come from straight from the Department of Redundancy Department.

I'm not trying to slam Irving; their stores are clean, the prices are within range of other stations, and this isn't going to get me to fill up across the street.

But I have to wonder how this sticker got through the layers of bureaucracy that must exist in an organization this big. The person who requested the stickers, the person (or persons or committees) that approved the order, the graphic designer, whoever signed off on those stickers (“is that the right font? do we have enough colored circles around the message?”) and the station workers who meticulously put them on all the pumps throughout the northeast.

When I posted the photo to Facebook without mentioning the gas station in question a number of people commented on it and identified it as from Irving, and that they had had a good laugh at it, too. Apparently someone was paying attention.

What's the takeaway here? That we need to be paying attention to all of our communications. As Scott Stratten says, everything is marketing. Everything we say can be used against us in the court of public opinion. A sticker like this is akin to the man in the tux with a piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of his shoe.

And here's one more example…and no, it wasn't Halloween.

Rich Brooks
Please Prepay for Your Sandwich in Advance